A small hollow region is formed when the shoulder bone, chest wall and the upper arm region merge together at a point, which is known as armpit. Armpit is known as axilla in technical terms and is one of the warmest parts of the body. There are number of blood vessels and lymph nodes present in the armpit like many other areas of the body. Some of the lymph nodes of the armpit are used to fight infection in this region. Armpit contains several sweat glands and hair follicles and that is why we sweat a lot in the armpit and hairs grow here as and when we shave.
Armpit lumps can be formed due to an infection and often they are harmless and benign (non-cancerous). Sometimes lumps arise due to accumulation of fat tissue or even allergic response to harsh perfumes and odorants. Your doctor can easily detect the difference between harmless lump and cancerous ones. When the lymph nodes get enlarged it gives rises to armpit lump.
Armpit lump can range from small size to thick noticeable large ones. Consult your health care provider promptly, if you notice any sudden change in size or color of the armpit lump.
Armpit Lump Causes :
Armpit lump is often harmless and occurs due to abnormal growth of the tissue. In rare cases lumps can form due to underlying medical condition.
Some of the major causes of armpit lump are given below :
Bacterial or viral or even fungal infection can occur in the armpit. The environment in the armpit is dark, moist and warm making it excellent atmosphere for parasites to live. It is quite common for many people to have an infected armpit which may give rise to armpit lump. Bacteria and other micro-organisms dwell in this place and feed on the dead cells multiplying in number. In due course the pores of the sweat glands get blocked forming a cyst or lump.
Lipomas are nothing but accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin which forms a cyst. Lipoma can occur anywhere in the body like neck, shoulders, armpit, back and abdomen. Lipomas are often harmless and never turn into cancerous cells. Lipoma can target anyone but the risk is high if you are obese and fall in age group of 40-60 years.
3. Fibrous Tissue
In some people overgrowth of fibrous tissue can cause armpit lump. Generally these are non-cancerous and do not spread.
Allergic response can occur on the armpit if you are frequently changing soaps, powder or perfume. Harsh detergents can also trigger allergy causing lump or cyst in the armpit.
Lupus is an immunity disorder caused when the immune system of the body attacks the body’s own tissue. Often joints are the target for lupus and it may cause armpit lump due to autoimmune problem.
Skin can get irritated and inflamed by using sharp shaving blades which can lead to the formation of armpit lump.
Any type of cancer like lymphatic cancer, breast cancer or leukemia (blood cancer) can cause tumors anywhere in the body which then navigate to other parts like armpit. But it is only a rare phenomenon.
8. Armpit Lumps In Women
Women get worried when they notice an armpit lump on the fear of breast cancer. It is wise to get it checked with your doctor and undergo biopsy if necessary. Lump in the armpit can occur due to hormonal changes before and after monthly periods. Breasts can become lumpy and tender before and during the menstrual cycle which is quite normal. In case of doubt, you can do self exam of the breasts or get it checked promptly.
Signs Of Cancer :
Any cyst or lump in the body need not be cancerous. Variety of other factors can cause small or large cyst or lumps in your skin.
- Size Of Lump – You need not have to worry if the size of the armpit lump remains the same for months together. In case of cancerous cells, lump size continues to grow accumulating fatty tissues. Growing size of lump can be cancerous.
- Texture – Generally lump are soft tissue particles that can be moved with your finger. But if the armpit lump does not move or if it looks hard it can be cancer causing. Anything that is soft and tender and movable cannot be serious.
- Longevity – A lump (in any part of the body) has its own life. Lump formed due to infection or skin irritation would fade off within few days or a week. If the lump is persistent and not responding to any treatment or growing/decreasing in size should be examined by your doctor.
- More and More Lumps – If you notice more number of lumps forming in the armpit area or extending to breast region or vice versa, you would get it tested soon. Additional lumps hard in texture, growing in size under the breasts region can spread to the armpit nearby is a matter of concern.
Armpit Lump Tests :
Your doctor would first complete physical examination thoroughly. She may ask you questions regarding the lump. She would press the lump with her finger gently to check if you could feel the pain. She would examine the underlying lymph nodes in case of infection.
Further testing would be done based on the results of physical examination. To rule out the possibility of cancer, your doctor may suggest for complete blood count test, mammogram and biopsy. A small tissue sample from the lump is removed with sterilized tool and tested in the laboratory.
In some cases your doctor may do a lymph node biopsy wherein part of lymph node is removed and examined for presence of cancer causing cells. Imaging tests like X-ray, CT scan or MRI scanning would be done for getting accurate picture in case of any doubts.
Armpit Lump Treatment :
Often, no treatment is required for armpit lumps if it is not paining or growing in size. Based on the cause of armpit lump and the diagnosis results treatment would be given. For infection related lump, antibiotics are prescribed for a week or two. Antibiotics would destroy the infection causing bacteria and parasites gradually. You will better in few days. In case of severe infection, shot of antibiotics are given intravenously.
For allergy driven armpit lump, your doctor would recommend anti-allergic medications and identify what has actually triggered allergy. For moderate pain causing lump you can try OTC pain relievers like Ibuprofen or analgesics.
Armpit Lump Home Remedies :
- Moisturize The Skin – Apply skin moisturizers generously on your hands and armpits which can help in preventing dryness and infection.
- Hot or Cold Compression – Apply hot water bag or ice bag on the armpit lump to reduce inflammation and pain caused by it.
- Steroids – Cortisone cream and other steroids can give quick relief from armpit lump and other skin inflammation.
- Dissection Of Lymph Node – Your doctor may remove either part of or complete lymph node (affected ones) in case of any tumor.
- Botox Injection – A shot of botulinum injection can reduce the working capacity of sweat glands if you are sweating excessively. For mild cases of irritating armpit lump, your doctor would make a small incision and drain the pus inside the lump so that it heals easily. This can be done in office setting. Similarly he can use electro cautering method or removing skin tags by burning it with liquid nitrogen.
- Chemo and Radiation – For treating cancerous lump, your doctor may use chemotherapy or radiation method or sometimes both ones depending on the factors like stage and size of cancer.
- Armpit lump can be treated completely unless it is cancerous. Infections of any type would eventually fade by taking prescribed medications.
- To prevent any complication, it is better to check with your doctor and undergo testing if you notice any armpit lump.